SAN FRANCISCO—As part of a new phase of reopening, health officials announced on October 20 that San Francisco, Alameda and Santa Clara counties will be allowed to partially open outdoor stadiums for sporting events. 

According to new rules in the plan, the decision means that Levi’s Stadium in San Francisco could hold up to 14,000 people out of its 36,500 total available seats. 

However, Santa Clara County, home of the San Francisco 49ers, issued a statement in response that denied the new plan, saying “audiences at professional sporting events will not be allowed anytime soon.”

During a news conference on October 20, Santa Clara county executive Dr. Jeff Smith said: 

“This is the worst thing in the world to be doing. At a time when California is beginning to see some light, this amounts to another step backward. WE’ve already done steps backwards in California that have cost tens of thousands of lives and this is another risk to do this.”

Although these venues would be held outdoors, county officials have pointed out that it still does not guarantee that the virus won’t spread, as fans would still be using shared spaces such as restrooms, entrances/exits, and concessions. Not to mention that fans would be screaming and yelling during the game, which is known to increase transmission.

Following the new announcement, the 49ers released a statement that said they welcomed this news from the state but also said that the team “will continue to collaborate with local public health officials to implement a plan that ensures a plan that protects the health and wellness of the team, its employees, and the public.”

It still remains unclear if the state will allow college football sporting events to resume, which are still scheduled to resume in January. It is also unknown what types of sporting events will be held following the new allowance. The new phase of reopening in the designated counties is dependent on how they fare with the virus over the next coming weeks and months.